Possibly the most awe-inspiring temple of all ancient Egypt with its gargantuan rock-cut façade, the great Sun Temple of King Ramses II at Abu Simbel was created in honour of the mighty King Ramses II. Guarding the entrance to the temple and hewn into the side of a mountain are four colossal statues of the pharaoh himself. In a fit of precision and architectural egotism, Ramses II had the entire temple carefully angled and oriented in order that the sun’s rays would align twice a year on his date of his ascension to the throne (21 February) and on his birthday (21 October) and illuminate the inner sanctum of the temple. This incredible natural phenomenon provides for a most spectacular sight, which has come to be referred to as the Sun Festival of King Ramses II.
Our pick #2
Karnak & Luxor Temples
The temples of Karnak and Luxor are some of the most striking relics of ancient history in the world. Karnak is known as one of the largest temple complexes in the world, and was added to over hundreds of years by one pharaoh followed by the next. The Karnak complex is made up of four distinct sections, of which only the Amun-Re precinct is open to the public. The Luxor temples, magnificent and overall form an exceptionally significant part of Egypt’s history as they were the site where many of the country’s kings were crowned. It goes without saying that no trip to Egypt is complete without exploring the ancient grounds on which these temples sit.
Our pick #3
Valley of the Kings
Located in 4,000 year-old Luxor, the Valley of the Kings is studded with often highly decorated tombs, constructed to house the regal sarcophagi-enclosed mummies of the mighty pharaohs awaiting their passage into the after-life. Some of the best known tombs are those of Seti I, Amenhotep II and of course, the tomb of King Tutankhamun. In all, more than 60 opulent and lavish tombs have been excavated. There are at least 75 tombs in Biban al-Harim, the Valley of the Queens, around 2 of which are open. Deir al- Bahri, otherwise known as the famous Temple of Queen Hatshepsut, rises out of the desert plain in a series of terraces. Partly rock-cut, partly freestanding, it is one of Egypt’s finest and most photographed monuments.
As the only survivors of the ancient Greek-listed Seven Wonders of the World, the incredible Pyramids at Giza are the world’s oldest attraction. Known as Cheops, Chephren and Mycerinus, the pyramids were already more than 2,000 years old when Herodotus the Greek historian visited them. A highly skilled corps of mathematicians, masons, surveyors and stonecutters did the job of building the Pyramids. It has long been believed that 100,000 slaves were forced to carry out the tasks of moving and laying the stones of the largest pyramid, Cheops. However, recent evidence, including the discovery of "workers villages" and tombs complete with supplies for the afterlife, suggests that actually the Pyramids were built by skilled paid workers. This demonstrates to us yet again how far ahead of their time the Ancient Egyptians were.
The picturesque town of Aswan is set on the River Nile and serves as the starting point for both the felucca journey downstream to Kom Ombo and optional Abu Simbel excursions. The laid-back Nubian town of Aswan is also a highlight for visitors as it is overflowing with colourful markets, spicy aromas, Pharaonic and roman ruins and antiquity from the ancient land of Nubia. Elephantine and Kitchener Island are worth exploring and sampling the restaurants along the corniche is a good bet. Head out by boat to Agelika Island to explore the Temple of Philae belonging to the Ptolemaic and Roman periods. The largest monument of the island is the temple of Isis - occupying about one quarter of the island.
Our pick #6
King Tut Exhibit, Egyptian Museum
Discovered intact in 1922 by Howard Carter, the Tomb of Tutankhamun is possibly one of the most dazzling archaeological finds ever. Tutankhamun lived over 3,300 years ago during the New Kingdom period. For two centuries, Egypt had ruled as a world superpower, while its royal family lived an opulent lifestyle. King Tutankhamun’s solid gold funerary mask and his priceless cache of treasures entombed with him for his journey to the afterlife, are now on display at the world-famous Egyptian Museum in Cairo. With the brand new Grand Egyptian Museum slated to open sometime in 2022, this famous mask alongside Egypt's greatest ever display of artefacts is sure to be attracting visitors to Cairo for years to come.
Alongside Sharm el Sheikh, Hurghada is Egypt's premier beach resort, the perfect way to end a cultural adventure to Cairo, Aswan, Luxor and beyond. Hotels and expanded infrastructure provide holidaymakers with excellent aquatic facilities for sail boarding, yachting, deep-sea fishing, SCUBA diving and snorkeling. Hurghada’s central location provides a gateway to prime offshore reefs, which are some of the finest in the world. Hurghada is also known for its lively nightlife. For retail therapy, the town has plenty of shops selling knock-off bags and tees, snorkelling gear and suchlike. Just outside Hurghada is an ancient Roman quarry called Mons Porphyritis and Port Safarga – a famously windy place and an excellent place for windsurfing.
Founded by the legendary Alexander the Great and is a fascinating city sitting on Egypt’s north coast, lapped at by the beautiful Mediterranean Sea. The fact that Alexandria was once home to the Pharos, a lighthouse (despite it having collapsed) that was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, is a huge draw for travellers. You might not be able to witness this epic structure nowadays but the city is still imbued with its significance and a trip to the Alexandria National Museum will certainly help you on your way to getting to grips with Alexandria’s cultural heritage and intriguing past. Travelling from Alexandria back to Cairo, you could also make a stop at the site of some of the most brutal battles of the Second World War, El Alamein. It has become a site of pilgrimage for people wishing to pay their respects to those lost during the fight. The rows of graves in the various war cemeteries are a permanent reminder of the tragic loss that each country involved sustained. Yet, El Alamein is not just a sombre relic of the past with it is the perfect place to appreciate life and its moments of pleasure.
One of the most fascinating cities and the start point of all our tours is Cairo. You can see a glimpse of the lesser-known and most intriguing suburbs of Cairo on the Backstreets of Cairo tour which is exclusive to On The Go at the start of most of our group tours in Egypt. Make sure to also grab a bargain at the bustling Khan el Khalili bazaar and enjoy some tea at one of the nearby cafes - great for people watching. Another key highlight is the magnificent Islamic Citadel of Saladin and Sultan Hassan's mosque which is beautifully illuminated at night. When the long-awaited Grand Egyptian Museum finally opens its doors later in 2022, you can add this to the long list of reasons to visit Cairo. Travelling to Egypt on a budget and looking for free things to do in Cairo? Check out our guide!
Our pick #10
Situated in northern Upper Egypt, Dendera is one of the best preserved temple complexes, located 60km north of Luxor. This vast complex covers 40,000 square meters and its temples, chapels and shrines were gradually built over thousands of years. Dendera's crowning glory is the 2000 year old Temple of Hathor with its exquisitely decorated ceiling. Take a look for yourself and see what you think.
For more useful information to help plan your visit to Egypt have a browse through the following: